Becoming a drone pilot could cost $215 following new regulations in 2019

Kareem Gouda / January 10, 2018

New drone regulations will begin on June 1st and could cost Canadians up to $215 for the registration and testing required.
(BCIT News / Pixabay)

The federal government has adopted strict new regulations on how to own and operate drones in 2019.

Part of these restrictions involve passing a knowledge test and registering the drone with Transport Canada.

Dr. Eric Saczuk, instructor at the BCIT geomatics department, says needing to take a test and registration  are moves in the right direction.

“The old regulations were vague and a registration program is required These two new requirements will work to at least make people think twice before flying them (drones) in an irresponsible manner.”

-Dr. Eric Saczuk, Instructor at BCIT Geomatics Department

Game of Drones

Starting on June 1st drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), according to Transport Canada, will be requiring some simple,  but also costly, measures to meet new federal guidelines.

Micro-drones are drones below 250 grams in weight at takeoff. These require no additional certification or registration.

New regulations will affect the second category that ranges between 250gm and 25kg in weight. These drones are subject to registration and knowledge tests in order to operate legally.

This range is typically considered the vast majority of recreational users and pilots in this range will be required to pay up to $215 for full operational permissions.

Below is a breakdown of the costs the will take affect on June 1st:

RPA registration $5

Every drone over 250 gm to 25km in weight requires being a registered remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). Drones over 25 kg also do not need to be registered, but require a special flight operations certificate instead.

This registration costs five dollars and can be done through the Drone Portal on the Government of Canada Website.

Source: https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety/register-drone.html

Pilot exam (Basic or Advanced Operations) $10

Basic operations

If you meet all 3 of these conditions, you’re conducting basic operations:

  • You fly it in uncontrolled airspace
  • You fly it more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders
  • You never fly it over bystanders

If you do not meet any 1 of these 3 conditions, you are conducting advanced operations.

For example, let’s say you fly your drone more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders but in controlled airspace. This operation is advanced because you’re flying in controlled airspace even if you’re more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders.

For basic operations, here are some of the rules you must follow:

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time
  • Mark your drone with its registration number
  • Pass the Small Basic Exam
  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations and proof of registration when you fly

Advanced operations

If you meet any 1 of these conditions, you are conducting advanced operations:

  • You want to fly in controlled airspace
  • You want to fly over bystanders
  • You want to fly within 30 metres (100 feet) of bystanders (measured horizontally)

For advanced operations, here are some of the rules you must follow:

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time
  • Mark your drone with its registration number
  • Pass the Small Advanced Exam
  • Pass a flight review with a flight reviewer
  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations and proof of registration when you fly your drone
  • Fly within the operational limits of your drone

According to the Government of Canada, you can only use drones that meet the safety requirements for the operation you want to conduct. This guide shows which drones meet the corresponding operations your should understand before you fly. Also, If you have a Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations, you do not need a Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations to conduct basic operations.

Souce: Transport Canada,  http://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety/find-category-drone-operation.html#advanced

Pilot certificate — Advanced operations $25

If you want to go beyond basic and advanced operations then you’ll need a Special Flight Operations Certificate to fly:

  • At an advertised event
  • A drone over 25 kg
  • Above 122 metres (400 feet) – approximately a 30-storey building
Source: http://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety.html

Flight reviewer exam $50

To obtain the certification to operate a drone at events and above the 25 kg in weight.

Training is specific to how you’ll use your drone. Topics may include:

  • Airspace classification and structure
  • Weather and notice to airmen (NOTAM) reporting services
  • Aeronautical charts and the Canada Flight Supplement
  • Relevant sections of the Canadian Aviation Regulations

For more information on what you may learn, read the Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.

This is for more advanced use but the training here is similar to operating a plane since technically you are the drone’s pilot. Even if you never leave the ground you’re still responsible for the safety of those in and around the airspace.

https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/publications/tp-15263.html

Flight reviewer rating $125

These schools have self-declared that they provide training in line with Transport Canada standards.

Charges vary by company for flight review or training course. Fees are set by the drone flight schools.

This guide can show you where you can find a school that can grant your flight review

https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety/get-drone-pilot-certificate/find-drone-flight-school.html

License carrying eye in the sky

Many drone enthusiasts enjoy flying for recreation and photography. However, new rules starting on June 1st will mean that in order to fly drones, you will need a proper license and registration.

The footage below by Dr. Eric Saczuk is an example of a drone conducting “basic operations” over the BCIT Burnaby campus.

This type of flying will require the drone to be registered through Transport Canada, a pilot exam and a license kept on the pilot at all times.

Now you’re the Pilot

If you’ve gone through the paces, you should be good to fly. While transport Canada suggests practice and class preparation before private use, it is not required.

However, you should at least consider the following once you become a pilot.

While flying

To keep yourself and others safe, fly your drone:

  • where you can see it at all times
  • below 122 metres (400 feet) in the air
  • away from bystanders, at a minimum distance of 30 metres for basic operations
  • away from emergency operations and advertised events
    • Avoid forest fires, outdoor concerts and parades
  • away from airports and heliports
    • 5.6 kilometres (3 nautical miles) from airports
    • 1.9 kilometres (1 nautical mile) from heliports
  • far away from other aircraft
    • don’t fly anywhere near airplanes, helicopters and other drones

Always respect the privacy of others while flying.

Penalties

You could face serious penalties, including fines and/or jail time, if you break the rules.

Fines for individuals

  • up to $1,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
  • up to $1,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
  • up to $1,000 for flying where you are not allowed
  • up to $3,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk

Fines for corporations

  • up to $5,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
  • up to $5,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
  • up to $5,000 for flying where you are not allowed
  • up to $15,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk

If you break more than one rule, you could receive multiple penalties.

Tips for first-time pilots

  • Make sure it is safe to fly (ask yourself, for example: are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold or windy to fly?)
  • Fly your drone with someone who has flown a drone before
  • Fly your drone in an open space and away from people
  • Fly your drone close to the ground and at a low speed
  • Fly your drone during daylight and in good weather
Source: https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety/flying-drone-safely-legally.html